By Colin Walsh
The City of Davis failed to disclose a significant new 76 unit project proposal on Olive Drive (addresses 1031, 1037, 1041, 1047, and 1055), just down from the corner of Richards and Olive, until a contract for environmental review was placed on the consent calendar for the Nov. 19 meeting. Even then the City failed to disclose ANY of the application information until citizens asked for it. With the documents only released on mid Friday afternoon before a council meeting Davis citizens are left with little opportunity to review the pages of material.
Over the past three months the City of Davis has used the consent calendar to move forward significant large new development projects. Items on the consent calendar have no presentation during the council meeting and are only rarely discussed by the Council. The Council agendas state, "All matters listed under the consent calendar are considered routine and non-controversial, [and] require no discussion." This new 76 unit Olive Drive project, right next to one of the worst traffic intersections in Davis, is anything but routine and non-controversial. It is worthy of discussion.
The City Council has been pushing the limits of what fits on the consent calendar, and has been receiving community push back See here and here where the Council did the same thing with decisions relating to the ARC business park outside the Mace curve, but with the Olive Mixed use project, the City did even more that; they kept the project hidden from the public until mid Friday afternoon.
On 11/14/2019 the City of Davis posted an agenda for the November 19th City Council meeting. The consent calendar contained a recommendation from staff to contract for environmental review for a previously undisclosed project on Olive Drive. It did not contain the project application or any of the documents submitted to the City by the developer.
On 11/15 at 9:25 AM the City website had no listing for the Olive Drive mixed use project and no documents.
I emailed City Manager Webb at 9:32 AM and requested information about the Olive Drive mixed use application.
Mid Friday afternoon, Cathy Camacho, a City Planner in the Department of Community Development, emailed me a link to information on the City website. I recognized the link was to the city's development project directory, so I went back and checked the City Development page again. I was astonished to see that the project had been added since the morning when I first contacted the City Manager.
The City only made the documents relating to the Olive Drive mixed use project available to the public AFTER I asked to see the documents. One wonders if they would have made the documents public at all without a request.
Surprisingly, I found the project application had been in the City’s hands for a long time. It was received by the City of Davis on August 7, 2019. The City held the project application out of public view for 3 months before disclosing it to the public.
This lack of public disclosure leaves little time for Davisites to review new projects before they come before the City Council.
This is not the kind of open government the people of Davis expect or deserve.
Considering this is the 3rd time in recent weeks the City has advanced a project on the consent calendar with little warning, one has to wonder what the City Council's intent is by not offering better disclosure about large new development projects.
What is certain is, the City and City Council must to do better than this.